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Association des Juifs Originaires d'Egypte
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product image 2THE CROCODILE SMILE. (Roman)
Les romans de Suzy Vidal ont un gros défaut : on ne peut plus les lâcher dès que l’on commence à lire les premières lignes. Et ce dernier titre ne fait pas exception à la règle.
Avec habilité, Suzy Vidal mêle la fiction à la réalité, ou l’inverse, et le lecteur séduit se laisse prendre au jeu. En s’appuyant sur sa profonde connaissance de la société juive de la première moitié du XXème siècle, Suzy Vidal se permet d’échafauder un scenario improbable et le rend crédible. Aussi, il faut vous précipiter sur ce livre, prévoir un après-midi de lecture, et savourer avec plaisir ce moment de dépaysement. (©S. Diday)

El Sebha, a type of rosary.
My nonno, may he rest in peace, was a very short person, only one metre forty-eight; when he came from his day’s work at the Mouski where he had a shop, would wash and put on a white full length robe and then sit in his favourite armchair, his feet barely touching the ground, and with his sebha in his hand automatically count the ivory beads. I never found out what he said, but as I was a mischievous child I sometimes hid the sebha from him. But he knew it could only be me and would say ‘ Mamzerta, fein el sebha? M,where is the sebha?
And then we would both laugh. What a souvenir!
Barsouma, the bonesetter. In French, le rebouteux.
Everyone in Cairo knew Barsouma. From father to son they were the miraculous bonesetters who would put your sprain, or dislocated wrist, arm, ankle or shoulder into place in a quick unexpected click.
When we took a taxi and told the drivers ‘Khodna aand bassouma,’ they always knew where it was.
There you were ushered in a room where there waited ‘ the master’ in his white galabeya.
He made you sit in a chair and encouraged you to tell him what had happened. He listened very carefully while massaging the spot with oil prepared from one of his recipes, then when your attention was totally on your explanations and when you least expected it: CLICK!
And that was it. For a few hours the spot was tender then the positive result set in permanently
El Ahwa, coffee, le café.
Coffee was a ritual no one escaped from. Coffee as we know it now in packs did not exist. You bought your coffee in green beans, then went to a roaster to have it roasted to the taste you liked.
The next operation was to grind it fine because it was for el ahwa, the Turkish one.
Two types of coffees were drunk at home or ordered in a café:
El ahwa mazbout wel ahwa sokar ziyada. That meant for the first you added just a spoonful of sugar or two for the second. Remember that sugar cubes did not exist yet.
How to prepare a real coffee Egyptian manner:
First you put water in your kanaka then bring this water to the boil. Remove the kanaka from the flame and add el sokar then el ahwa. Turn with a spoon then place again on your flame. When the coffee rises, you remove it and repeat this two more times. You get a perfect ahwa with a creamy top!
Ya salam
El Kassat el Hawa, les ventouses.
These were small rounded bottom glasses used "to pull" away the cold from the body. When you had one of these terrible colds and had difficulty in breathing, there was only one way of treating it, as antibiotics did not exist. The patient lay on his tummy, his back naked and the person who applied the kassat el hawa busied herself. She prepared a small torch with cotton wrapped around it, lit it with a match. One by one the kassat were picked up and she quickly turned the burning torch in the glass then applied it on the back. When the cold was very strong the kassat sucked up a good piece of the skin inside it and gradually it became blue showing that it was taking away the cold.
The patient had to lie on his front  till the skin became blue then it meant that they had to be pulled out. To do that, you placed a finger on one edge and pushed. With the other hand on the glass, you pulled it till you heard a “kiss” liberating your back.
This treatment brought a great relief to the person who received it, the inconvenience being that the marks remained on your back for a very long time, revealing to everyone when it was time to put on a bathing suit that the person had been ill that winter.